Mission accomplished as Irish U-21s storm to comfortable European victories

Men’s EuroHockey Junior Nations Championship
Ireland 14 (O Magee 4, S Dowds 3, N Burns 2, M Bell, S O’Donoghue, K Shimmins, J Duncan) Slovakia 0

Fifty-one goals in four games showed the distance between Ireland’s up and comers and the developing nations as their return to European U-21 competition concluded with another glut of goals.

Job done, gold and promotion secured, the tangible benefits from this week in Bratislava starts the journey of recovery from ‘C’ division back to the top tier after an eight year absence from this grade.

The value of scorelines like this, though, show that this tournament was more a formality and an event to be endured rather than one which will have long-term value for Ireland’s young charges.

They did well to cope with the uncontrollables, a bobbly sand-based pitch and an imposing venue described by one member of the squad as resembling a “Call of Duty” scene.

As on Saturday, they recorded double figures against their Slovak hosts, skipper Shane O’Donoghue starting the run from the penalty spot inside three minutes.

From there, Matthew Bell, Nick Burns, Davy Carson and Owen Magee’s first of the game brought the score to 5-0 at half-time. Nine more after the break – including three in 90 seconds around the 66 minute mark – concluded the competition with a flourish as Stephen Dowds and Magee (pictured) both netted three times after the interval.

Ireland: S West, K Lynch, M Bell, S Dowds, S O’Donoghue, S Loughrey, D Carson, M Crooks, S Cole, P Brown, D Cole
Subs: S O’Grady, O Magee, K Shimmins, N Burns, J Duncan

Results: Final – Ireland 14 Slovakia 0;
3rd/4th playoff – Lithuania 3 Bulgaria 2, after extra-time

Women’s EuroHockey Junior Nations Championship
Ireland 8 (Naomi Carroll 2, Nicola Gray 2, Gillian Pinder, Hayley Mulcahy, Olivia Roycroft, Brenda Flannery) Turkey 0

The women followed up in Lisbon to claim gold and promotion with a demolition job against Turkey to see Ireland move up to the second tier of European competition for 2014. It was plain sailing from the moment Naomi Carroll – scoring for the fourth successive game – was on the mark in the second minute with a cracker.

She was key to exploiting the space left by an ambitious Turkish opponent who left themselves exposed at the back allowing Ireland to prosper. Gillian Pinder netted a second phase corner, initially won by Natalie Barr, but three further set pieces could not yield more goals, the half-time lead 2-0.

Nicola Gray’s tracer bullet extended the margin in the 40th minute before Aisling Naughton laid on for Hayley Mulcahy to score. Four more goals in the closing quarter finished the tournament in style as Carroll’s second and one a piece from Olivia Roycroft and Brenda Flannery made it seven before Gray struck straight and true to close out the win.

Ireland: S-J Greer, N Gray, B Flannery, S Greene, N Barr, A-M Morton, A Meeke, G Pinder, E Beatty, N Carroll , A Naughton
Subs: O Roycroft, H Matthews, L Ewart, H Mulcahy, K McDonald
DNP: A Curran, R Barnett

Results: Final – Ireland 8 Turkey 0
3rd/4th playoff – Azerbaijan 4 Portugal 0

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